Ukraine: Daily Briefing
December 13, 2017, 6 PM Kyiv time
A Ukrainian ground forces BTR-4 participates in live-fire training exercise.
Photo – US Army Europe
1. Russian Invasion of Ukraine
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported at 12:30 PM Kyiv time that in the last 24 hours, no Ukrainian soldiers were killed or wounded in action. In the last 24 hours, Russian-terrorist forces opened fire on Ukrainian positions on the Luhansk, Donetsk and Mariupol sectors of the front 24 times in total, including at least 13 times with heavy weapons – artillery, tanks and mortars. Russian-terrorist forces shelled residential areas of Shyrokyne with mortars. No civilians were injured.
2. US President signs Defense Act, which authorizes $350 million in security assistance to Ukraine
On December 12, US President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act 2018 (NDAA 2018), which authorizes $350 million in security assistance, including lethal and non-lethal equipment, training and technical assistance to Ukraine.
US Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, stated, “There is longstanding bipartisan agreement on the policy tools that the United States should utilize as part of its comprehensive strategy to support Ukraine, deter future aggression against our allies and interests, and uphold the fundamental principles of the U.S.-led international system that Russia’s actions ultimately threaten. Now, the United States Senate is taking a critical step forward in its support for Ukraine […]
An independent Ukraine is critical not just to Eastern Europe, but it also impacts broader U.S. interests in the region and beyond. I am pleased the president signed this measure into law. I now urge the administration to quickly get Ukraine the assistance they need.”
3. Reuters: EU will extend Russia sanctions
According to a report by Reuters from December 12, EU leaders will agree tomorrow to extend EU sanctions imposed on Russia for its occupation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine. Reuters stated, “The main sanctions, which target Russia’s energy, defense and financial sectors, would otherwise be due to expire at the end of January 2018. EU leaders meeting in Brussels on Thursday will agree an extension until mid-2018, officials and diplomats in Brussels said.”
4. US Secretary of State: Russian sanctions regime will not change until Ukraine’s territorial integrity is returned
Speaking on December 12 in Washington, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated, “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is something that we cannot accept. As I’ve indicated to others in Europe last week, it’s one thing for countries to choose sides in conflicts. Russia wanted to choose the side of Bashar al-Assad; we chose not to. But when you invade another country and take their territory, we cannot – that cannot be left to stand.
And that is the basis for the very stringent sanctions regime that the U.S. and Europe imposed on Russia as a result of that invasion, and that regime will not change until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is resolved and Ukraine’s territorial integrity is returned. […]
We know we’re going to have to continue to deal with Russia’s hybrid warfare. We felt it in our elections and we now have reports from many European countries that they’re seeing the same effects. It is something I do not understand about why Russia thinks it’s in its interest to disrupt the free and fair elections of other countries. What do you hope to achieve? I don’t understand it and no one’s been able to answer that question for me. But we make it clear that we see it, it needs to end, it needs to stop, and it too stands in the way of renormalizing our relationships.”